Thursday, October 05, 2006

You thought Russia and the US were friendly?

With both the US and Russia in imperial moods, it is all smiles in public while daggers are clutched behind their backs. And the latest trouble is over Russia's neighbour, Georgia.

Russia sees Georgia as within their sphere of influence. Historically, Georgia has been part of both the old Russian empire for centuries, and in recent times part of the USSR. Stalin himself was a Georgian. There are many Russians living in Georgia, and Georgians in Russia.

All that began to change a few years ago, with the electoral victory of a pro-US president. In just a few short years, Georgia has politically moved away from the Russians into the arms of the US. The Georgian army uses American uniforms and equipment and is trained by American advisors. Georgia has become actively hostile to Russia, accusing them of imperial designs on Georgia, and of deliberately trying to keep Georgia weak and divided. Russia, for its part, sees the Georgian President as a tool of the Americans, aimed at surrounding Russia with hostile countries that are nothing more than American client states.

Both countries have accused the other of blackmail and terrorism.

Not surprisingly, the Americans are very keen to see Georgia, with its valuable oil pipelines, remain in their sphere of influence rather than Russia's. They have invested heavily in the career of the Georgian President.

There is even the threat of war between the two. Although Georgia's military is no match for Russia's, Russia has greater political reasons for avoiding war. While a full-blown war is unlikely, a proxy war between separatists and the Georgian government is more likely.

More here.

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